Elios SkyEye remote-access drone used for Sappi inspection

Skyriders has made short work of backpass ducting inspection at a chemical recovery furnace at the Sappi Ngodwana pulp-and-paper mill in Mpumalanga. This is a fully-integrated kraft mill producing pulp for newsprint and containerboard, as well as for in-house use, with a 210 000 t/y capacity.

Initially another company was approached to carry out the inspection work in November last year but was unable to assist, at which point Skyriders was requested to provide assistance. “We definitely jumped at the opportunity,” comments Marketing Manager Mike Zinn.

Two drone pilots and an inspection manager were dispatched to site, carrying out the necessary inspection and compiling a detailed report for the client in practically no time at all. “It was quite challenging from a flying perspective, because in certain areas we were flying completely blind without having eyes on the drone. But Elios being a confined-space drone meant it was able to traverse the full length of the duct without any obstruction or delay,” explains Zinn.

Two drone pilots were dispatched to site carrying out the necessary inspection and compiling a detailed report for the client

This is not the first time that Skyriders has carried out work for Sappi. It has provided a similar inspection service in the past based on rope access instead. In addition, it has been involved with waterproofing and the installation of an access platform inside a concrete smokestack.

Apart from the reduced time it takes and increased safety of the personnel involved, the application of drone technology also has the side-effect of keeping such inspection teams to a minimum size, which is ideal for complying with all necessary Covid-19 regulations, concludes Zinn.

About Skyriders
Skyriders (Pty) Ltd., established in 1998, is a leader in the South African rope access industry, providing cost- and time-saving solutions to clients in the power generation and petrochemical industries who require rope access aided inspection, NDT and maintenance work to be done in difficult to reach, high-up locations.

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